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Madeline Putz, a Wallaroo and now promising referee, fresh from refereeing the Women's Final at the Super 7's Brisbane between Australia and Fiji gives us her account of the last 12 months of her refereeing career with a focus on her recent trip to NZ for their National 7's Championships.
“My name is Madeline Putz, and I am a Rugby Union player and referee.
I've been very lucky in my playing career to be able to consistently represent Western Australia in both the 15-a-side and 7-a-side formats for several years.
I have also been lucky enough to be accorded the honour of representing Australia as a Wallaroo, and have been on three tours. The highlight of this was definitely being able to play in France as part of the 2014 Women's World Cup.
Coming in to 2017, I found myself pushing very hard for a spot in the 2017 World Cup side and was unlucky not to be included in the touring side.
Though as we all know, that in life when one door closes, another one opens.
Not making the World Cup side was in some ways the end of a chapter for me. I had trained daily, often more than once a day, for the previous four years with intensity and purpose as a Rugby player. Now that I wasn't going to be touring, I thought that it would be good both physically and mentally to look at a new challenge.
Refereeing wasn't exactly new to me, I had been reffing junior Rugby games for a couple of seasons before and made some reasonably rapid progress up the grades. With my 7's playing experience and mobility around the ground, it was floated to me that I might fit in quite naturally to refereeing the 7's format.
I was given the opportunity to referee at the Darwin 7's tournament, which was an incredible experience not simply for the heat and humidity. I had an absolute blast refereeing the 7's and through my performance there I was asked if I would like to participate in refereeing at AON university 7's competition.
I gladly accepted the opportunity and over a number of weeks, in a number of states and cities I was refereeing some of the best 7's players in Australia.
Opportunities from this experience have really opened up for me, which have included the Dubai Invitational, run concurrently with the World Series Dubai 7's. The latest opportunity that I was offered was to referee in New Zealand at their Bayleys National 7's competition in Rotorua.
I was incredibly excited going in to the tournament because I knew that the women from the national 7's program would be playing, and that these players are producing the next level of 7's playing standard. I also knew that one of the good friends I had made from the Australian Nationals 7s tournament, Lauren Jenner, was a Kiwi who had refereed that tournament on exchange, and would also be refereeing at this tournament.
I was not let down in either department. The games were outstanding, with some of the best skills that I have seen in either women's or men's Rugby at any level, which made refereeing this tournament highly enjoyable.
And again with the team of referees, coaches and management that I had the privilege of working with on the weekend, each and every one of them was amazing. I made some great friends and had some wonderful experiences that I will always remember.
Over the weekend I refereed eight games, but the highlight for me was definitely the semi final between Manawatu and Wellington, which Manawatu took with a two point win. I know that getting the opportunity to referee such good quality Rugby is going to bring my level of refereeing on leaps and bounds.”